BENGALURU: While pregnancy is a low-immunity condition, there is no evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at a greater risk of contracting Covid-19. However, it is imperative that pregnant women take extra safety precautions during these pandemic times. Wearing a face mask in public, periodic hand washing, using sanitisers when soap is not available, maintaining social distancing and avoiding travel whenever possible are some of the important safety measures they can take.
It is a fact though that the virus affects pregnant women with diabetes or asthma much more severely. Given the recent rise in cases, it has been observed that pregnant women, especially those above 35 years of age, are more vulnerable to Covid-19 in their third trimester, and at the fag end of their pregnancy or if they have pre-existing medical conditions like kidney disease, high BP, obesity or diabetes.
Pregnant women who contract the disease should restrict themselves only to online consultations in the first and second trimester and maybe only visit the hospital once in two months for blood pressure and vitals check-up. In the third trimester, the mandatory weekly check-ups towards the end of the pregnancy must be strictly followed.
There is not enough data available today to suggest that Covid-19 causes miscarriage or pre-term labour. Proper diet and hydration, getting enough sleep, and most importantly, not getting stressed plays an important role in the management of the disease. It is also important for pregnant women to try and get as much natural Vitamin D as possible, by getting 20 to 30 minutes of mid-morning sunlight, either on one’s terrace or even on the balcony. Pregnant women must not indulge in self-medication. Whatever the situation it is very important that they consult their gynaecologist for medication. Pregnant women affected by Covid-19 should make it a habit to monitor the baby as well.
It is advisable that pregnant women monitor the movement count of the baby, which should be roughly three counts in an hour. According to available data, there is no vertical transmission of Covid between the mother and the baby either through amniotic fluid or the blood. So, pregnant women affected by Covid need not stress about whether their baby will be born with the disease. It is normally only after birth that the baby has a chance to contract the virus. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. In case a mother is positive and gives birth, she should not stop breastfeeding the baby. She should wash her hands, wear protective gear (PPE) and use a mask while feeding.
After feeding the baby, she should maintain at least six feet distance from the baby. Also, an immediate change of clothing and towels for the baby and the mother is advised. Nutrition for a pregnant woman is very important. They must ensure to have structured meal timings and include vegetables with each meal and not skip any meal. Pregnant women often crave snacks; focussing on snacks that are high in energy and nutrition helps. They should not wait to be thirsty to have a drink. Exercise and rest are vital. (The author is the chief obstetrician and gynaecologist, Specialist Hospital)